Thursday, 22 December 2011

The British Road Sign

Is there a better example of human-centered design than the road sign?  The Design Museum has recently added the UK road sign design to its collection recognising it as a classic.

The standardisation and consistency of design means that we all understand them

They are remarkably effective at transmitting the necessary information in the often short time that a driver had before they pass it.

The brilliance, when the design was first developed in the 1950s, was recognising that the designers need to understand people and how they would process the information.  The research around reading distances and clarity hadn't been done, so the design had to be developed by trial and error...but critically informed by prototyping and testing.  They recognised, for example, that the mix of upper and lower case was critical in readability.

Ultimately they have succeeded as a design to the extent that we no longer notice their quality and therefore have hardly changed over the years. As long as they are put in the right place which is another story.

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Friday, 2 December 2011

Prosthetics and wearable technology

This story about a man who has adapted his prosthetic arm to embed a smartphone in it raises some interesting thoughts and questions.

The first is the around the continual striving of individuals to make technology work for them. A really great idea seems to suffer from a lack of support from suppliers and manufacturers and took some individual determination to make it happen.  The result, as is often the case, then becomes attractive to the bigger boys to take up.

The second is the simplicity of the solution.  It's not about complex technology or interfaces but taking the modern accessible technology and using it in a different way.

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